Double Digit Defiance - The Ugly Side of Raising a Confident Kid

Dear Alex,

Sometimes these blog posts write themselves if you wait long enough.  There was one recent event that I had hoped to relay to you in your ten year old birthday letter from me - and I will get to it here - but in the meantime, several other events nearly identical in what they say about you as a ten year old have emerged.

If one of your dad's nicknames is Easily Excitable Eric, I think one of yours should be Overly Opinionated Alex (Absolutely Arrogant Alex has better alliteration, but is a bit too strong).  As you reach your pre-teen years, you have taken an approach in letting people know exactly where you stand, regardless of their position in life, regardless of whether that opinion might hurt someone's feelings.  You just have an opinion and come hell or high water, you are going to let everyone know.

Of course, my (typical) response to this type of behavior is to try and prove your opinion wrong.  To change what you think because it bothers me that you believe there only to be right and wrong, black and white in the world, with absolutely no shades of grey.  This is, of course, what it means to be ten years old and to find your place in the world, but it still bothers me.

At ten years old you say things like:

  • To your teacher, Mrs. Spiech "Homework planners are POINTLESS. If all of our worksheets are in our homework folders, why should we have to write down in a planner that we need to complete those worksheets!"

  • To your Auntie Dawn who lives in Manhattan (and just treated you to a fantastic night in the city, complete with dinner in the East Village, tickets to Blue Man Group and your very own iPad mini) "New York is a terrible place to live.  It smells.  It's dirty.  Apartments are small.  There is little grass and trees."

  • To me and to anyone who will listen about your future college ambitions "I'm definitely going to live in LA when I grow up.  I'm going to go to UCLA.  I'm going to live near Hollywood.  UCLA is the best/the only/the most fantastic of film schools in the country.  There are no other good places to learn how to become a director, be in the film industry."

As the mother to this ten year old, I respond:

  • Alex, you cannot speak to your teacher that way.  It is inappropriate to speak to a person in a position of authority in that manner. (Although, secretly I'm kind of proud that you feel confident enough to stand up to someone in a position of authority.)

  • Alex, if you hate Manhattan so much, I can PROMISE you that these yearly extravagant celebrations with your Aunt are DONE.  Why should she do so many nice things for you if all you do in return is say horrible things to her about the place she has chosen to make her home.  Oh and by the way, if you're so keen to visit London, you better be prepared because all those things that you say you hate about Manhattan are EXACTLY the same in London. (Although secretly I cannot WAIT to take you to the great cities of Europe.)

  • Alex, do you really think Los Angeles is all that great?  The smog and pollution there from all the cars is WAY worse than the pollution here in Manhattan.  And you better do your research before you go around saying that UCLA is the only school that has the type of program you want.  What about USC?  What about NYU?  You sound ignorant and uninformed when you paint the world as so completely black and white.  (Although secretly, I love that you have such ambition and drive, a true north, at such a young age.)
This is your evolving personality at ten.  However, most of the time you continue to be just who you have always have been - you find joy in both base humor and erudite language, you love movies, you love video games, you love being with friends, you love a good book, you love hamburgers, you often pretend to be annoyed by (but secretly love the attention from) your sister, you feel frustrated by those things at which you are not immediately perfect including spelling, punctuation, handwriting, baseball, basketball.  You are most definitely my child, made in my image, which makes me both love you and feel for you fiercely.

Happy tenth birthday, Alex!



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